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Point of View: Aspirational, Who?

Wed, 08/16/2023 - 17:41

To use the word “aspirational” in connection with the former president, as one of his lawyers recently did serially on a number of television talk shows, is aberrational.

Tyrants don’t speak aspirationally, they do not speak hopefully, they don’t say “wouldn’t it be wonderful if. . . ,” they bark orders, and woe to him or her who doesn’t carry them out.

I’ve been reading Stephen Greenblatt’s book about Shakespearean tyrants — Richard III, Jack Cade, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Lear, and Leontes among them — and their enablers, and it is instructive. His description of tyrants sends chills up your spine — a twisted one in Richard III’s case, which, with the withered arm, chiefly sets him off from the Republican front-runner.

A tyrant is “pathologically narcissistic and supremely arrogant . . . he loves to bark orders and to watch underlings scurry to carry them out . . . he is not merely indifferent to the law; he hates it . . . because it gets in his way and because it stands for a notion of the public good that he holds in contempt. . . . The public good is something only losers like to talk about. What he likes to talk about is winning.” Sound familiar?

Mary said she liked the idea of a worldwide televised trial, as was suggested by Steven Brill on The Times’s editorial page the other day, but I wonder. Were I a juror, I think I’d wear a cowl and  cover my face. As a letter writer to The Times said on Aug. 8, the defendant has already, by having threatened “judges, prosecutors, witnesses, and possible jurors,” committed jailworthy violations. Put that in your aspirator and suck it.

Anyway, this is my late stepfather’s birthday, and I’ve been thinking of him too, a genuine member of “the greatest generation.” While a lifelong Republican, and a devotee of Hillsdale College, he would never have approved of Trump. Come to think of it, there were precious few people he did approve of.

“Rank has its privileges AND its responsibilities,” he would say now and again, glancing my way.

And I must say he WAS responsible, and, being a child of the Depression, as was my mother, who saved him, he did not abuse his privileges. He was loving, too, and tolerant — aspirational, in fact, when it came to me.

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